LDS Church updates guidelines on how leaders should handle abuse

SALT LAKE CITY – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Monday that it had updated its’ guidelines on preventing and responding to abuse after a former Missionary Training Center President was accused of sexual assault.

The three-page document, first issued in 2008, is meant to act as a guide on how to properly handle all types of abuse for LDS Church leadership. The document states that it operates a free and confidential abuse helpline that can be utilized, and encourages members to look for signs of abuse.

Bryndis Roberts, Chair of Ordain Women, a group within the LDS Church that supports the ordination of women into the priesthood, says the new guidelines are well overdue, but may not be sufficient.

“I don’t think it’s enough,” Roberts said.  “I think we really need to look, the church really needs to take a long hard look at all of its’ policies dealing with reporting of abuse,  whether its child abuse, sexual abuse, whatever kind of abuse. It needs to take a look at all of those policies, and we need to move away from any sort of position that is focusing too much on rehabilitating the perpetrator or protecting the perpetrator, to focusing on protecting the victims.”

“Stake presidencies and bishoprics should ensure that what they say about abuse is based on Church doctrine,” the document stated.

The LDS Church also highlights ways that abuse can be prevented. The document encourages members to have at least two responsible adults present when supervising children during Church activities.

The full Preventing and Responding to Abuse document can be read here.

The following is a letter sent to LDS Church leaders from the First Presidency of the Church: